Friday, February 27, 2015

TOP STORY >> Judge will decide on Lewis’ competence

Leader staff writer

The husband and wife accused in the capital murder of real estate agent Beverly Carter will be back in court for a hearing Wednesday, when the judge will rule on a mental evaluation declaring Arron Lewis mentally competent to stand trial.

The victim’s body was found Sept. 27 in a shallow grave near Hwy. 5 in north Pulaski County. Carter was reported missing a few days earlier, when she didn’t return from showing a house in Scott.

The evaluation finds that Lewis, 34, of Gravel Ridge has antisocial personality disorder. He also told a therapist from the State Hospital that he could prove co-defendant Crystal Lowery is innocent.

Lowery, 42, appeared for a hearing on Thursday in front of Judge Herbert Wright, but the Arkansas Department of Corrections failed to transport Lewis.

The hearing date for both was reset for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in room 440 at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson said he didn’t know why Lewis wasn’t transported and that he couldn’t comment on the evaluation or how the victim’s family felt about that news.

A mental evaluation has not been requested for Lowery, and Lewis told the therapist he would not seek a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease of defect.

The accused elected to not cooperate in the evaluation of his mental state at the time of the alleged offenses. He denied committing the kidnapping and murder charges he and Lowery are facing, according to the report.

Having violated his parole, Lewis is incarcerated at the Tucker maximum-security unit while Lowery is being held at the Pulaski County jail awaiting trial.

Lewis was arrested after the victim’s phone records showed Carter called and texted a phone that belonged to Lowery. The deleted text messages could not be recovered.

Investigators watched the couple’s residence until Lewis, who matched the description given of a man neighbors saw with Carter at the Scott home, drove away and was involved in a single-vehicle accident. His vehicle also matched the description of a vehicle witnesses said they saw at the scene of the abduction.

Lewis was taken to a hospital for minor injuries after the accident. But he fled the hospital and was apprehended later in Little Rock, according to the report.

Police found the cell phone Carter had called and texted. Duct tape, a baseball bat and rope were also found in Lewis’ car. The victim’s phone was found in the home where Lewis and Lowery lived.

The evaluation not only gives a few details about the case not previously released, but also paints a detailed portrait of Lewis.

The accused was born in Louisiana but moved several times after his white father and Mexican mother divorced when he was 6 years old, the report reads. He described his mother as frequently unfaithful to his father and as an “alcoholic.” Lewis said she was charged with child neglect once, but is now a “Christian fanatic.”

The report states that Lewis refused to say whether he was sexually abused but that he remarked, “I believe both my parents deserve to die for how they brought me up. They were (expletive) parents.”

His father remarried and Lewis said the relationship between him and his stepmother deteriorated after she tried to “assert herself as an authority figure.”

Lewis has two children with different women. He married the mother of his second child because he was “going on the run” and so that his son would have his last name, the report reads.

They divorced when he went to prison. Lewis married Lowery, after having known her for five to six months, because she had a daughter and it would “look good for the court” as he was trying to gain visitation rights with his son.

Lewis told the therapist he was in charge of waking Lowery’s daughter and would sometimes throw a glass of water on her if she didn’t get up in five minutes.

The accused claimed he “fast-tracked” high school to graduate at age 16 because he wanted to start working.

Lewis also told the therapist he was “beat near to death” at age 30 during a robbery in Mexico. He said he was hit on the back of the head with a brick and suffered from a collapsed lung, chipped teeth, a broken nose, broken ribs and internal bleeding. At a federal prison in Indiana in 2009, Lewis said two inmates stabbed him and his ear had to be reattached.

At age 17, he robbed a bank and served six years for that offense. Lewis was later convicted for “interstate commerce of stolen vehicles” and theft. His violations while incarcerated include passing notes to female inmates, according to the report.

A previous doctor described Lewis as “extremely arrogant, narcissistic…very demanding and manipulative.”

Lewis told the State Hospital’s therapist, “The only person helping me is the media” and her opinion was that he enjoys publicity, according to the report. He added that media was keeping him from being attacked by officers while incarcerated.

According to the report, the accused claims his confession was coerced after 12 hours of interrogation.

Lewis said police were “beating the (expletive) out of me,” his face was “smashed into the wall in the bathroom” and that he yelled for help and asked for a lawyer several times.

The report states that Lewis also complained about his attorney requesting the evaluation against his wishes and — although he said, “I really don’t care about my own case” — was concerned about having a fair trial. He stated that he preferred the death penalty to life in prison, it continued.

Lewis also made “pejorative” statements about the victim, such as “It’ll be a real shocker when everyone hears what the good girl did,” the report states.